Why I Love Potatoes
By Ted Zettel Sr.
The potato is perhaps the best plant on the planet! I may be slightly biased toward love of the “pomme de terre”, having grown up on a farm in Southwestern Ontario, within a community descended from German and Irish immigrants. Throughout my childhood, we ate potatoes every day. Twice a day! We had them boiled for supper and fried the next day for lunch. Potatoes for us were like rice to the Chinese or pasta to the Italians.
I never thought there could be any other way to eat them until one memorable night when the men’s ball team my Dad coached brought in Kentucky Fried Chicken and French fries. These were originally potatoes! Who knew?
Since those days of innocent culinary ignorance I have come to discover and enjoy eating the potato in many other ways. My daughter Peggie roasts them in the oven seasoned with a secret mixture of herbs and spices. A few years ago, I found out that if lunch time sneaks up on me and there are no cold, boiled potatoes in the fridge to fry, I can make potato latkes! Raw potatoes, grated, mixed with onion, seasonings, deep fried in pork lard and served with sour cream and ketchup. Delicious!
To my deep dismay, I note that the preeminence of the potato is declining, giving way to more bread, pasta and rice dishes to supply the carbohydrate portion in the diets of my children and grandchildren. These I will argue, are not better choices. Nothing against wheat and rice in moderation, but in this house the humble potato is still the staple. Besides the aforementioned inculturation of the author, here’s why;
- Potatoes are good for you. Loaded with minerals and vitamins, easy to digest and without all the allergy problems associated with wheat.
- Potatoes are easy. The simple direct route of the potato from the field to your plate is a model of economy. You just dig them up and bring them in. Keep them in a dark place and they just wait there, ready to be popped in the pot. Try following a grain of wheat or rice from the field to your plate. Chances are it has travelled thousands of miles, been handled, cleaned and perhaps treated, then processed for easier storage. All this detracts from the original value of the grain, adds cost for the eater and has its toll on the environment.
- Everyone can grow them. And should! If you haven’t tried it – go ahead. No specialized equipment required to plant or harvest. Sacrifice one flower bed, and plant a few organic potatoes next spring. Take some little children along when you go to dig them. Their eyes grow wide as they see the tubers roll out of the dark earth like so many buried gems.
- Potatoes are inexpensive. What do you get these days for $10.00? Not much. But try eating your way through a 10lb. bag of potatoes. That’s a lot of servings! You can eat all the high quality locally grown organic potatoes you like, and it will make no noticeable impact on the family budget. In fact, if the potato replaces some more highly processed food option, your family will be healthier and wealthier!